Nancy Santiappillal
Nancy Santiappillal
Nancy Santiappillal

Nancy Santiappillal

‘High-Resolution Assessment of Cancer Cell Metabolism and Novel Prostate Cancer Treatment Strategies’

University of Sydney, NSW
Awarded 2020
Co-funded by Rotary Club of Blacktown City ‘Mel Gray’PhD Scholarship

“Wanting to better understand how to treat prostate cancer, which is one of the most common causes of cancer death for men in Australia and New Zealand.”

General Health PhD Scholarship

Researcher Profile

My interest in cancer research began while studying my Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science at the University of Auckland. I was intrigued by the different fields of cancer research and specialised my degree to a research area in Cell Biology and Cancer Therapeutics. I then continued my research at the University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, completing my Master of Biomedical Science in Prof Grant McArthur’s Molecular Oncology lab.

Under the supervision of Dr Lorey Smith and Dr Karen Sheppard, my project investigated metabolic reprogramming that occurs in response to BRAF/MEK and CDK4/6 targeted therapies in melanoma.

Project Summary

Cancer cells modify their metabolism to support growth and movement (i.e. metastasis). It is now well established that cancer cell metabolism differs from normal cells of the body; hence the growing interest in developing new therapeutics that target unique attributes of cancer cell metabolism. However, to date no specific anti-cancer therapy has been developed. One reason for this could be that our understanding of cancer cell metabolism is not as advanced as our knowledge of the genomic alterations and other aspects of cancer cell biology.

This project will use state-of-the-art approaches to develop the first high-resolution insights into prostate cancer metabolism. This new knowledge will be compared to that generated from a diverse panel of cancer types. The metabolic data, combined with genetic data, will be used to identify common features that classify cancer cells into metabolic subtypes and the molecular underpinnings. These molecular candidates will then be tested to determine whether they are viable anti-cancer therapeutic targets.

Overall, the outcomes of this project include the generation of significant new knowledge related to prostate cancer cell metabolism and the molecular underpinnings, identify novel metabolic signatures that have common vulnerabilities and provide the basis for future drug targeting. This discovery science project is a crucial first step in identifying novel metabolicbased therapies that address the overarching goal of improving patient outcomes for men with prostate cancer.

Supervisors: D Andrew Hoy, Dr Lake-Eu Quek & Professor Lisa Butler.

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